Just as John “Hannibal” Smith loves when a plan comes together, I love when an album comes together. Guess what? Unearth’s latest release, Darkness in the Light, comes together. There are so many ways that a metal album can go sour. Unintelligible Cookie Monster vocals and senseless flailing distortion can make even the most ardent metal fan bored by the noise. The flip side of that coin are singers who ape the late Layne Staley’s patented “yeeeeaaaah” and guitarists who play their instruments with the same detached interest a young trophy wife has for her 80 year old husband.
Unearth, the metal quintet from Massachusetts has looked at this landscape and decided to show these neophytes how it is done. Using a blend of aggressive power chords, Trevor Phipps’ hardcore style vocals, and double bass percussive bullets, the band strikes you in the face with a closed fist of metal. But their other hand contains a velvet glove of melodious rock riffs, face melting guitar solos, piano interludes and well-constructed bridges.
The opening track, “Watch it Burn,” serves as a microcosm of the album as a whole. It opens with a wailing guitar riff backed by crunching power chords, throat-shredding vocals and progresses into automatic fire drumming and finishes on a crescendo of distortion and Phipps shouting “burn your eyes on a setting sun.”
The same formula is used throughout the album, but as a listener, my attention never wavers, mostly because the music will not allow it. While the structure is the same in each driving track, the variables of each are unique to themselves. “Arise the War Cry” treats the listener to some deft finger tapping guitars and military march snares. “Equinox” offers a respite with soft piano playing and emotion filled guitars before the band regroups and attacks with more aggression. The album’s penultimate track is the optimistic anthem “Overcome” which gives fans hope for the next release.
Darkness in the Light is Unearth at its best, bridging the gap between metal and melody. Their passion for their craft is rivaled by few and sought after by many. I, along with any other metal fan, should be proud to have this album in our library. If you haven’t already, check out Unearth and be prepared for your iPod to punch you in the face and then turn around and give you a bag of ice.